WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Over the weekend, several community and city leaders honored Wilmington native and Civil Rights Leader Major General Joseph McNeil for participating in a peaceful protest 59 years ago.
When he was a college student at North Carolina A&T, McNeil and three other young black men, later named the Greensboro Four, held a sit-in at a Woolworth Department Store’s segregated lunch counter, sparking nationwide changes so that blacks and other non-whites could sit down and eat at lunch counters and any other public places across the US.
His granddaughter, Franchon Francees, joined dozens of others Saturday to celebrate the recognition of the Wilmington native’s work.
City council passed a resolution designating N. 3rd Street from Market Street to Davis Street as the Maj. Gen. Joseph McNeil Commemorative Way.
Councilman Clifford Barnett was a part of that process.
“I think it’s good to have a living model right around us and it reminds our kids that it doesn’t matter where you come from,” Barnett said. “Your beginning is not your destiny.”
Francees says her grandfather’s actions in 1960 led to this monumental day, but we still have more growing to do.
“There’s some work to be done, and I’m happy that this happened, and I’m very thankful and our family’s very thankful, but we want to be clear, that there’s still things that need to be done in Wilmington,” Francees said.
McNeil is 77 years old. Many said they were glad to be able to congratulate him in person and that he could be there for the event.